The Pat McAfee Show – hosted by the former Indianapolis Colts punter turned podcaster – will debut on DAZN later this morning (10a EST). At face value, news of content syndication lacks sizzle, but when viewed through a marketing lens (and when one considers DAZN’s current place in the domestic OTT marketplace) it warrants further attention. The insurgent streaming service is using the daily program – and its nationwide distribution – as a PR play, estimating it would cost upwards of $30 million in traditional advertising to gain comparable awareness; any subscribers that come as a result of the show will be considered a bonus.
Howie Long-Short: Venturing into the daily studio show space seems like an unconventional move for a company that to date has focused on gobbling up live sports rights across nine countries, but when you consider the lack of U.S. rights currently available and the exposure the McAfee show will provide – both in terms of listeners and headlines – it makes sense.
Remember, DAZN is at a distinct disadvantage when compared to its domestic competitors. While ESPN+, BR Live and NBC Gold all benefit from the reach and amplification of associated linear channels (think: promotion of UFC PPV during College GameDay), DAZN has no choice but to spend endless resources promoting its marquee events (think: Canelo, Joshua and GGG fights). McAfee – who is broadcast in more than 40 markets and boasts of 1.6 million loyal followers across social – won’t ever capture an audience the size of GameDay, but he will serve as a much more effective (and fiscally responsible) promotional vehicle to tout the streaming service’s wares. The show is expected to drive 5x the value of a traditional advertising spend for DAZN.
The addition of the McAfee show solves another challenge for the upstart streaming service. As it currently stands, DAZN has a series of tent pole events but little in the way of regular content. As a result, the company enters the sports conversation for a week or two and then disappears for several months at a time. McAfee gives subscribers a reason to log-in to the service daily which should help to keep the programming the company does have top-of-mind.
DAZN is syndicating the Westwood One radio broadcast, so the company is adding valuable content without having to break the bank. The OTT service is sharing in the costs of the program, but a source familiar with the terms of the partnership said that “radio is paying very high percentage [of that money].” Unfortunately, the strategy is not particularly replicable; there’s only a handful of singular talents – not already tied to ESPN or Fox – with the reach and audience to create the widespread awareness sought.
For those not familiar with McAfee, it’s likely because he’s become more recognizable in his post-NFL career than he was in uniform. A good player (selected to the ’14 and ’16 Pro Bowls), McAfee unexpectedly retired prior to the ’17 season to pursue a broadcasting career. A quick stop at Barstool and routine appearances at WWE and on ESPN – along with his knack for generating headlines – have helped to quickly raise his profile as a broadcaster. His podcast is currently listed as Spotify’s #5 ranked sports and entertainment podcast.
Fan Marino: While not exactly an apple to apples comparison, NASCAR’s plan to fund a Netflix sitcom (set in a garage at the race track) – starring Kevin James – is similar to DAZN’s unique strategy; using cut through talent to drive awareness of a platform (or in their case a sport).
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